Monday, May 28, 2012

The Pro-Jesus, Anti-Jesus-Freak Gospel

Public image is an interesting vexation. It’s no secret that I’m open about my faith or my service in ministry, but I get the sense, all the wrong folks think I’m a “Jesus Freak” or a good sinner. I believe in Jesus and I love God, but the God of the cross is not some cliché, image-conscience, lifestyle-driven deity. I assure you the “Jesus Freak” mentality is a symptom of our broken world.

I believe in a living, loving, and gracious God whose redemptive work of the cross will only cease to be relevant if we live in a perfect world; therefore, it will be relevant until its completion. Being a Christian doesn’t mean believers are better than others; it means we’ve received the gift of God’s grace for being the sinners we sometimes forget we are – grace which all are afforded through the work of Christ.

Faith in Christ is life changing, but it isn’t about lifestyles. It’s an encounter with the living God, who died even for great sinners like me. To anyone who reads this, who can’t stand Christians, who’s been offended by my more moralistic brothers and sisters (or myself) know this, whatever you heard slandering you in the name of Jesus was not and is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is this, Jesus lived and felt every ounce of human suffering, Jesus died taking on all our burdens, and Jesus resurrected in victory over the brokenness of our human world. This is our hope, this is the Gospel, and this is what mends the brokenness of all people (myself included).

God’s peace be with you all on this day, now, and forevermore. Amen.

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer” (Dietrich Bonheoffer).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Radical Transparency and the Colapse of Piety

Greetings Readers, it’s been a minute since The Dialect of Praxis had a post. It’s been an exciting time in my life and new adventures have kept me engaged in conversation elsewhere. I hope you all are well!

Radical Transparency is a term I’ve borrowed from David Kinnaman’s well-selling title UnChristian. The phrase is an ideal set by the Buster and Mosaic generations (specifically those ages 16-29) who have grown skeptical and/or cynical about the portrayal of Christianity and the mass-marketed consumerist society surrounding young people today. Radical Transparency is a mindset aimed at deconstructing image-centered hyper-individualism and being “real” with people.

Kinnaman’s book, boasting copious amounts of research and data analysis on Western culture’s negative perception of Christianity and its people, declares, only 1 in 22 Christians (in the 16-29 age bracket) have a deep connection to the Christian faith (UnChristian). This phenomenon is what authors such as Kenda Dean and others have come to call Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

In the spirit of Radical Transparency, I have to say I’m not alarmed by any of the statistics, negative views, erosion, or declining numbers of the Christian faith. I’m at the tail end of the Buster demographic and have personally experienced the skepticism, cynicism, and need for authenticity in the Christian world. But, the skepticism and cynicism (which I have no doubt worn as a coat of armor) is as concerning as the façade of moralistic perfectionist Christianity.

Pious behavior (personal devotional reading of scripture, doing everything right, praying enough, and the like) doesn’t save us and this is a fair criticism from non-Christians and skeptical believers, towards the typically Conservative portion of the Christian community. However, I’m not looking to tear down Evangelicals today. Instead, I ask, could a delicate balance of piety be a bad thing?

Honestly, I’m not hugely pious (or remotely pious compared to my days as an Evangelical Christian) but I like to study the scriptures. As is evident by the statistics in UnChristian, most people identify the importance of Christianity in lifestyle before anything to do with the Gospel message. And, experience has shown me that many young people in the Church today don’t have a basic understanding of the Gospel (or scripture in general). Maybe non-Christians don’t want to know who Jesus is because most Christians don’t know who Jesus is anymore. Christianity is not a set of lifestyle principals; it is faith in the living God and redemptive work of the cross.